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Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR)

Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR)
Desk with file, bottle of pills and stethoscope

As we saw in the previous section pharmaceutical (chemical) contamination of our waterways is a big concern, and the one that may affect us most in healthcare is anti-microbial resistance (AMR). This is a massive public health concern.

  • Covid pandemic killed 3 million people per year over the 2 years.
  • AMR is set to kill 10 million people across the globe every single year by 2050!
  • Antibiotics really important part of healthcare. They are across every single part of healthcare.

At this point we would like you to pause for a moment….

If we didn’t have any antibiotics what could be the consequences?

No antibiotics could mean:

  • We could not do routine operations: procedures could become life threatening without prophylactic antibiotics.
  • We could not give cancer patients chemotherapy.
  • Financial consequences, including extremely high healthcare costs due to an increase in hospital admissions, longer hospital stays, more intensive care units and isolation beds, and expensive, intensive therapy.

There are very few new antibiotics in the pipeline, so we need to preserve the antibiotics that we do have.

What we don’t know

Since the 1950s, there is lots of evidence on contamination. However, what we don’t yet know is how daily exposure of human beings to these ‘sub-therapeutic levels’ over a prolonged period of time will impact human health. We are starting to see research into this

We are already seeing that these ‘sub-therapeutic levels’ of pharmaceutical contamination are having impact on children, pregnant women and vulnerable populations.


In order to reduce pharmaceutical pollution in the environment researchers, academics and environment agencies in Scotland have come together to create the One Health Breakthrough Partnership. You can learn more about the work that they do via their website


  • Ecotoxicology: The effect of a medicine when it gets into our environment.
  • Pharmacoenvironmentology seeks to deal with the environmental impact of drugs given to humans and animals at therapeutic doses


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